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The Six-Syllable Sutra Ritual Mandala and the Six Kannon

The Six-Syllable Sutra Ritual Mandala and the Six Kannon

Chapter:
(p.150) Chapter Four The Six-Syllable Sutra Ritual Mandala and the Six Kannon
Source:
Accounts and Images of Six Kannon in Japan
Author(s):
Sherry D. Fowler
Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824856229.003.0005

Images of Six Kannon appear in paintings of the Six-syllable mandala (Rokujikyōhō mandara) made during the thirteenth through the nineteenth century. The mandalas include syllables, which are abbreviated forms of Sanskrit letters, alongside Kannon images in body forms that recall earlier descriptions of Chinese images. As these mandalas served as the central focus of rituals performed to avert calamities, help with safe childbirth, and remove or redirect curses, they also demonstrate how the goals for Six Kannon worship came to emphasize practical, earthly concerns. Even though the Six-syllable sutra rituals were frequently performed, Six-syllable mandalas that depicted Six Kannon images were not the only type of painting used in the ritual. Hence, Six-syllable mandalas that include Six Kannon are scarce. Early surviving examples, such as those from Kyoto National Museum, Daigoji, Yamato Bunkakan, and Museum of Fine Arts Boston, are precious resources that show the development of the imagery and rite.

Keywords:   Japan, Buddhist, Rokujikyōhō mandara, Rokujikyō, Six-Syllable Sūtra, mandala, Ono no Ningai, Daigoji, Rokuji karin hō, jusojin

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